A study involving elderly subjects has revealed that taking the daily recommended dosages of ibuprofen and acetaminophen caused a substantially greater increase in the amount of quadriceps muscle mass and muscle strength gained during three months of regular weight lifting. Physiologist Dr. Chad Carroll, of Ball State University, reported the results at the Experimental Biology conference in San Diego on April 6.
The subjects, between 60 and 78 years of age (average age 65), were randomly assigned to daily dosages of either ibuprofen (such as that in Advil), acetaminophen (such as that in Tylenol), or a placebo. The dosages were identical to those recommended by the manufacturers and were selected to most closely mimic what chronic users of these medicines were likely to be taking.
All subjects then participated in three months of weight training, incorporating 15-20 minute sessions three times per week. Training at this intensity and for this time period should significantly increase muscle mass and strength. The researchers expected the placebo group to show such increases, as its members did, but they were surprised to find that the groups using either ibuprofen or acetaminophen did even better.
Interestingly, an earlier study measuring muscle metabolism over a 24 hour period found that both ibuprofen and acetaminophen had a negative impact, by blocking a specific enzyme commonly referred to as COX.
But paradoxically, the longer-term consumption of ibuprofen or acetaminophen during resistance training appears to have enhanced the metabolic response to resistance exercise, allowing the body to add substantially more new protein to muscle.
The researchers are now conducting assays of muscle biopsies taken before and after the three-month period of resistance training, in order to understand the metabolic mechanism of the positive effects of ibuprofen and acetaminophen.
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Source: Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology